I've been working on a pair of Renegade Knights for my 40k Chaos army and also to use in the Imperial Knight: Renegade box game. The models have a fair way to come, but to keep me motivated I've done a bit of background on the first one. The Hunter’s Son The former Freeblade Knight known as The Hunter’s Son is spoken in hushed tones and spat curses. Tales abound of its fall from grace and ultimate betrayal of the Imperium, but as with all rumours of Heresy and Treason factual history is lost among the accusations and details deliberately omitted. Mankind is quick to decry any who have fallen from the Emperor’s Grace as the worst kind of scum; born and bred tainted, and the tale of The Hunter’s Son is no different. His origins are uncertain, for no Household wishes to taint its reputation by admitting to be his sire. It is known that he was born to one of the several Noble Households that inhabit the Knight World of Arden and quickly gained a reputation as a great Hunter, travelling the wilderness and slaying the gigantic beasts that dwelled in the dark corners of the planet. At some point that became his only cause – the politics of Nobility and the burden of leadership cast aside he took up his new name and title as a Freeblade. The Hunter’s Son’s skill at defeating the mighty beasts of Arden were legendary. He was a giant slayer, a monster hunter, and even rumoured to slay a mighty Daemon (although claims were never confirmed one way or another). When Arden became embroiled in its second Great Planetary War the Freeblade was called upon to defend the Knightly fortresses. These mighty strongholds were the bastions for Nobles, Royals and Imperial diplomats and administrators alike, as well as being the prime manufactories for the mighty Knights and their armaments. The masses of humanity rose against them, rallying against what they perceived to be cruel, over-wealthy tyrants and dictators. In truth the nobility was mostly benevolent aside from one or two households, but Arden was a harsh place with a huge working class population quick to side with one who could promise a better life. More often than not this resulted in migration from one Household’s lands to another with the balance of power shifting to whichever family could better provide for the people. This time was different. Hundreds of Knights and the armed forces that accompanied them put down the rebellion with systematic violence. It was ignoble, and it caused great pain to the chivalrous Knights who were born and raised to protect their people, but it was necessary to prevent the world becoming entirely embroiled in anarchy. All households united in the pacification and Freeblades returned to their roots to support their families, some even returning from off-world campaigns. All except for The Hunter’s Son. The wholesale slaughter of humans was entirely unappealing to him on many levels. The destruction of his supposed charges was distasteful, the ease of which the task was done was inglorious but mostly there was no challenge and without a challenge there was no glory. Seeing no reason to partake in such petty bloodshed and being unsympathetic to the Nobles and Royals, the Hunter’s Son refused to comply with the orders given. Trial of a Traitor Once the war had ended and the status quo was restored The Hunter’s Son was brought before a council to stand trial for treason. Representatives from each Household formed the bulk of the council, with members of the Adeptus Mechanicus, Adeptus Ministorum and the Planetary Governor also present. The Nobles were quick to declare the Son a traitor to the Imperium and called for his execution and for his Knight to have all heraldry defaced with the Mark of Treason to be displayed in the capitol as example to others. Rather than defend his actions the Son in turn accused the Nobles of being pompous and self-serving, and that the war was a direct result of the mismanagement of their subjects. The hearing quickly devolved into a furious argument and exchange of personal insults. It was the Planetary Governor’s call for silence that ended the furor. He was a man who traditionally held little sway over local politics, however in matters related to the Imperium at large he had ultimate authority. Since none of the rebel elements in the war had renounced the Imperium or defied Imperial edict (indeed many even believed to be fighting for a more just and Imperial form of government) he declared the war a localised conflict and proclaimed that no Heresy or Treason against the Emperor had taken place. The dumbfounded Nobility sat in silence as the member for the Ecclesiarchy voiced their agreement – all parties involved in the conflict had been followers of the Imperial Creed and subsequently declared Pure of Faith. The Hunter’s Son included. The Nobles, despite their numbers and their power over Arden were in no position to refute the word of the Governor and the Ecclesiarchy without resulting in further bloodshed. Even the Mechanicum were hesitant to accuse, for to do so would result in a precious and irreplaceable Machine Spirit and Throne Mechanicum being lost. So it was that they settled on banishment. The Hunter’s Son was to leave Arden and never return and would be forever forfeit of their right to return to their House – a grave and nearly unheard of punishment. Diary of a Mercenary Since its banishment from Arden the Hunter’s Son acted as a mercenary for Imperial forces, not unlike other Freeblades. He plied his services in support of Imperial Guard regiments undertaking various campaigns and crusades; defending supply lines, besieging enemy strongholds, ambushing and executing hit and run strikes against Traitor and Xeno alike. Thousands fell to the whirring teeth of a Reaper Chainsword, searing blast of a Thermal Cannon, and hail of bullets from Gatling Cannons and Heavy Stubbers and crushing grip of the mighty Thunderstrike Gauntlet. In exchange for delivering death to the foes of Mankind he was provided with munitions, repairs and travel but what he sought most was more worthy foes to hunt. As time wore on The Hunter’s Son rejected more and more contracts – taking on only those that would pit him against mighty war engines and gargantuan beasts. With less paying work his Knight fell into disrepair, although care was still taken to maintain weapons and locomotive systems. The haggard, battle worn suit of armour gradually became an untrustworthy sellsword rather than a resolute ally in the eyes of the Astra Militarum, and generals were often hesitant to deploy The Hunter’s Son in battle where his unreliable nature would cost them not only the price of the mercenary’s contract but also the lives of their soldiers. Although unpopular and held in great suspicion by the Imperium, a Knight is still a Knight and the Imperium is constantly at war so eventually a contract would be signed and the Hunter’s Son would see battle (and payment) again. It was on the world of Cando during a campaign that would be retrospectively dubbed “The Cando Incident” that the Freeblade slipped from the good graces of the Imperium. Cando was an archive world, honeycombed with tunnels and vaults containing archeotech, data crypts, librariums and all manner of invaluable information and relics. The ruling class were divided into Clans, as much at war with themselves as the Imperium was with its own. Each Clan had proclaimed the other as Heretics, claiming one another to be followers of Chaos. Imperial response was swift and brutal, Astartes and Imperial Guard deployed and attacked the Clans, who subsequently requested the aide of other Imperial Guard regiments and Space Marines Chapters. As the campaign escalated more and more groups became involved, including several Xenos factions and even a host of Word Bearers Chaos Space Marines. Global war had erupted on an apocalyptic scale, and the Hunter’s Son intended to make the most of it, constantly switching sides to the highest bidder. With so many forces in play no matter what group he worked for there was guaranteed to be a challenge. At the height of the conflict another Knight appeared, a renegade adorned in the trophies of slain beasts. It was then that the Hunter’s Son first began to hunt this Renegade, ignoring all other orders and betraying his hiring Clan to stalk his new prey. Ultimately it was in vain, the rival Knight was extracted from the planet by the Word Bearers force after it was defeated by an Eldar assault. Seeking to follow his mark the Hunter’s Son was similarly extracted by Clansmen seeking to flee the conflict. Soon after his departure Cando succumbed to the damage dealt by the conflict and the planet came apart, its great knowledge – the very thing that was fought for – lost forever. The Traitor and the Beast Following the Cando Incident the Freeblade was branded a Traitor by the Imperium, however thanks to the ruthlessly inefficient bureaucracy that is the Adeptus Administratum it would be some time before any who weren’t involved in the Cando Incident to become aware of this. It wasn’t long before the Hunter’s Son abandoned the refugee Clans to pursue his quarry. Time and time again the two Knights encountered one another on the battlegrounds, each stalking the other in turn. Predator and prey. Hunter and beast. The Hunter’s Son stalked the unwary renegade through the ruins of Port Chathaven until the Imperium drove it away. On the jungle world of New Airtsul he found himself the prey, narrowly escaping the hungry chainsword of the beastial Knight. During the Sybarian Crusade on the Maelstrom’s edge both Knights sought to best one another at range while evading the massive Imperial presence bearing down on the region. As their galaxy spanning dance of death goes on the renegades are enigmatically drawn to the Hunter’s home world of Arden. Tracking the beast to the Knight World revealed a convergence of forces moving into the system; Imperial Navy ships had blockaded the world and deployed regiments of the Astra Militarum to the surface, Blood Angels strike cruisers and a battle barge hang in low orbit over the capitol and all manner of civilian craft anchor themselves outside the quarantine while more menacing starfarers lurk at the dark edges of the system like hungering wolves. War has come.